How to choose a good Twitter name

Note: this was written in 2009 – four years before I started working at Twitter. Choosing a username on Twitter matters a whole lot more than many other services. As the site gains more and more popularity, I hope these tips on how to choose a good Twitter name will come in handy.

  1. It will be what you're known as in the social world of Twitter, not just what you use to log in. Choose something fun! And best to avoid numbers, special characters, or anything unpronouncable.
  2. People will be typing your username to send messages to you, like "@paulannett", so it should be short for their convenience.
  3. Messages sent on Twitter have a maximum of 140 characters, so it's annoying when you have to use up 1/10th of a message just with someone's unnecessarily long username.
  4. If you're Tweeting as your business, use the business name you're known as (when I had a problem with a Little Tikes toy, I eventually found them on Twitter under the name @ CozyCoupe - who'd have known! I notice they've now changed their username to @littletikes).
  5. If you're Twittering as yourself, don't use your business name. People will only follow businesses they have an interest in for fear of just getting a load of spammy messages.

Sorry to use my friend Hannah as an example here! She's a fantastic wedding photographer from London and her business is called Funky Photographers. Her personal Twitter account was originally @ funkyphotograph, which is inconveniently long to type, takes up over 10% of any message to her, isn't her own name and isn't quite her business name either because the maximum length for a username is 15 characters (but it sounds like a business so that might deter some people from following her). As a result of reading this, she's now changed it to @MrsMacG — a shortened version of her surname, and a much better choice!

How to Change Your Twitter Username

If you end up registering with a username you later want to change, all is not lost. Unlike many services, Twitter does allow you to change your username at any point, and you retain all your followers. Remember to tweet to your followers about your new username or they might be confused where you've gone and who this new person is that they've never heard of!

It's worth mentioning that your username is also your web address on Twitter, so if you change your username any links from other websites to your old messages will stop working. All my messages are stored at twitter.com/paulannett and because my timeline is set to public rather than private, many of them have been indexed by Google. Were I to change my username, all of these links, and those from any other website, would break. Not such a problem if you're relatively new to Twitter, or if you don't care about such things as link rot.

You can change your Twitter username on the 'settings' page - just follow the link from the menu in the top right corner of your Twitter page.

Please leave a comment below if you found this post helpful at all (why not include the name you chose!), and remember to follow @paulannett!